A few years ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and, as a result, had a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and 4 months of chemotherapy. The surgeries and the chemo left her tired, pale, and bald. She wore those cute bandanas on her head, or a baseball cap, but nothing could really hide the fact that her hair, among other things, was gone. Still, every time she walked into the room, my dad would look at her, then look at me and say, "Isn't your mom beautiful. She is just gorgeous. She's about the prettiest woman I've ever seen." And he meant every word.
I love that my dad saw his wife, my sweet mom, as this gorgeous creature, despite some physical issues...and now that her reconstruction is complete and her hair all back to normal, she's just lovely as ever.
While my dad thinks my mom gorgeous, its not just her physical features that he loves. Its her spirit, her kindness, her attention to detail, her servant heart, her dedication to family and work and learning and the Lord...its so many things that make my mom beautiful. Dad never lets her forget it, and it helped my mom get through such a rough chapter in her life...and I certainly haven't forgotten how it made me feel knowing my dad loved my mom so deeply.
I think there is some sort of need within every girl for someone to tell her that she is lovely...that something about her is sweet, gentle, kind, pretty, even gorgeous...that she's worth a little time, and that its alright for her to be a woman.
We tend to call this affirmation or encouragement, but what it does for a girl goes far beyond any word or idea. When someone lets a girl know that she is all those things she longs to be, its like getting a letter in the mail written by a long lost friend recalling precious memories...its the shyness in a first kiss...its discovering the secrets of Grandma's attic...its the smell of fresh honey on your tongue...its the sound of children laughing...its a taste of future love.
Peter Gabriel captures this desire in one of my favorite songs...
In your eyes, the light the heat
In your eyes I am complete
In your eyes I see the doorways
To a thousand churches
Of my all my fruitless searches
O I see the light in your eyes...
Peter gets it...he gets what a girl wants to hear, maybe even needs to hear.
When I was in seminary, I was so insecure about who I was, how I looked, how I acted...so many things. Two godly men, Pedro and Caleb, began to speak to me in love and grace and truth, and with the kindness of the Lord. Caleb asked me one day, "Katie, what about you do you think is attractive to guys?" I instantly burst into tears because I my first thought was, "Nothing...are you kidding me?" He then said, "Your laugh--its like you laugh from the deepest part you of...and your eyes--they are windows into your soul..." and he continued on. Pedro joined in this conversation, too, and it lasted for weeks...and by the time I graduated, I felt pretty and desirable, and it was because these guys weren't afraid to encourage a sister in a way that was honest and without pretense or expectation. It was affirmation in its purest form.
And while its true that God sees us girls as lovely and gorgeous daughters, and that His grace is sufficient, and that He is our ever loving Father, and that He is the lover of our souls, and that He is ever faithful...it sure feels good when someone else thinks we are lovely too.